A few years back while on a trip to the Maldives, Kira Graves found herself looking out at the ocean while relaxing in her over-water bungalow. The sun was setting, and that particular moment revitalized her existence. She took her time to enjoy the beautiful site as she let her body take in the breeze from the wind. At this moment of serene peace, Kira Graves questioned what it means to be truly happy. She resorted to her psychology knowledge to explore possible answers and strategies that would be implemented by anyone wishing for better traveling experiences while allowing happiness to guide their journey.
Kira Graves has always relied on research to inform her behaviors, decisions, and mindset. She recently read a report from a study done by Washington State University where 500 Taiwanese adults were recruited to purposely ascertain whether traveling made them happy. The results confirmed that those who traveled several times a year, at least 75 miles away from their home, were 7% happier than those who rarely traveled. It was further postulated that happiness for travelers can be measured by how satisfied a person is with how the journey was planned and experiences they had. Another poll conducted by the Institute for Applied Positive Research established that people who simply planned a trip were relatively happy, and less stressful. Many people feel greater levels of energy when they have an upcoming trip.
With this in mind, Kira Graves advises that experiences are much more valuable than items. The happiness one gets from spending their money on material things will most likely only last for a short amount of time. Things get old very quickly. However, when we buy experiences, we live it, it enters us, becomes a part of us, and most importantly, forms a part of our memory that can be relieved over the years. Kira Graves tried this by doing an experiment. While touring the majestic Taj Mahal, she dressed in a sari, traditional attire adored by the natives. Aside from enjoying the breathtaking views of one of the seven wonders of the world, she clearly remembers how the clothing made her feel good about herself. She was simply happy.
Another thing that Kira Graves does every time she is traveling is be more social. Most of us assume that while on an airplane, bus ride or on a train, we’d rather just mind our own business. But, for a fact, we tend to be happier when we interact with someone next to us. Kira Graves points out that social relationships and human connections are critical to our happiness while traveling. It is possible to solicit positive emotions from dialogues and share those good feelings within us with others. She also suggests that travelers should not discount casual interactions such as talking with a waiter at a coffee shop. It is all about using every bit of opportunity that comes our way for more in-depth interactions. Kira Graves was once in Turkey and realized that language barrier was a reality that hindered her from interacting with some of the locals. Rather than cut herself off, she resorted to learning a bit or two of Turkish and tried connecting with some people. The mere experience of learning the language made her happy but socialization made her feel fulfilled.
Kira Graves says that happiness is about being joyful, excited, optimistic, and content with everything that comes our way. These are cues that travelers should look forward to experiencing- smile through it all!